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No doubt you've heard the expression, "seize the day" or carpe diem, as the Latin phrase goes. But along with the day, you also need to be seizing opportunities. Rather than waiting for them to come to you out of sheer good luck, take action to create opportunities.
So how do you do that? Start by clarifying your values and priorities. What's important to you, where do you want to go, why, and how can you get there? To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, "If we don't know where we're going, then it really doesn't matter which road we take."
Once you've identified a "nursing niche" that complements your talents, interests, and passion, go exploring!! Intrigued by pediatric oncology, critical care, or long-term care? Find the workplace that best supports your professional development. But don't stop there. Once you're proficient in your chosen specialty, share that knowledge and expertise with your colleagues.
Be a "career strategist" to help ensure not merely your survival, but also your continued success in nursing. Consider some of these strategic initiatives, which are also good tools for marketing yourself:
* Develop your people skills. Work collaboratively and share your expertise with other health care disciplines.
* Expand your network. Join professional and community organizations, then take it a step further and become an active member.
* Get certified in your specialty to validate that you possess the knowledge, skills, and experience to effectively and safely deliver the highest quality care.
* Learn how to use technology to your advantage. For example, learn how a personal digital assistant (PDA) can help you professionally.
* Participate in nursing research activities.
* Develop your communication skills. Write for publication and present at regional, national, even international nursing conferences.
* Find a mentor and be a mentor to others. Share your successes by mentoring new nurses who need your help.
* Volunteer your time, expertise, and leadership skills wherever they're needed. Participate in community support groups, health screenings, flu vaccine campaigns, or educational programs.
To paraphrase Sir Francis Bacon, "a wise nurse will make more opportunities than she finds!!"
Denise D. Hayes, RN, CRNP, MSN
Clinical Editor, Nursing2005
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